Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Friday that the U.S. is likely to send his country another five million doses of Covid-19 AstraZeneca, as the company acknowledged that production in Central and South America has suffered multiple failures.
Struggles with local production of AstraZeneca and shortcomings in deliveries of foreign suppliers, Mexico asked for US help. In March, Washington sent 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca south.
“It will probably help us with the loan while the AstraZeneca plant in Mexico is up and running,” López Obrador told a news conference.
The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the agreement reached last year, the laboratory in Argentina produces the active ingredient of the vaccine and delivers it for filling to a factory in Mexico owned by the company Liomont. The recordings will be delivered throughout Latin America, excluding Brazil, which has a separate production business.
Argentina delivered the cargo to Mexico, but Liomont’s commercial production slipped from its original target in March. In a statement shared with Reuters, AstraZeneca said shots deliveries would begin before the end of June.
AstraZeneca said it regrets the failure, which it attributed to limited access to critical stocks, lower-than-expected returns in initial vaccine series and longer times to meet internal “on-site qualifications”.
“This will delay the launch of our vaccine in countries across Latin America that will be supplied from this supply chain,” AstraZeneca said, without giving further details about what caused the problems.
The Mexican government said the Liomont plant underwent major upgrades to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, and that it took longer than expected for the plant to obtain regulatory approvals. Liomont made a request for comment to AstraZeneci.
The additional location in the U.S. will help reach the target of 150 million doses for the region this year, excluding Brazil, AstraZeneca said, but 80% of the bullets will still be bottled in Mexico.
Problems have affected vaccination programs. The Argentine government officially requested a production report from AstraZeneca this week. In Mexico, the problems agreed with the delivery of much smaller doses of Sputnik V from Russia than agreed and with a smaller amount than the expected Pfizer vaccine.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Pfizer would deliver doses manufactured at a U.S. plant in Mexico for the first time.